estimates that wood stoves cause 4000 house fires annually. It is possible that you will pay more for homeowners’ insurance if you heat your home with a wood stove in winter than if you only use an HVAC system. It is important to be aware of the risks involved in heating your home and to know what insurance considerations to make.
Is homeowners insurance able to cover wood stoves?
The EPA estimates there are approximately 10.1 million wood stoves in use across the U.S., with 65% of them being old and inefficient. This risk may cause homeowners insurance companies to adjust their rates for those who use wood stoves as a primary source of heat.
A wood stove doesn’t automatically disqualify you from coverage with all providers. It is likely that your provider will need to inspect the installation. This process can be as simple as taking a photo of your wood stove to make sure your policy approval is not delayed. The following information may be required by insurance companies:
- The make and model of your wood stove
- The stove’s connection with your chimney
- You have the right amount of fire protections (such as a fire safety mat) in place.
Your provider might request an inspector to inspect your wood stove if it is unable to verify the information in a photograph.
Wood-burning stoves: What are the requirements?
Your provider might have requirements if the wood stove has been around for a while. A certified technician may inspect the wood stove to make sure it conforms with local codes. The fire codes are constantly changing, so the stove you have may not be up to date.
It is a good idea to hire a licensed contractor to install a wood stove in your house. Wood stoves can cause fires and other serious damage if they are not installed correctly. The spread of smoke can quickly cause damage to the house, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. Chimney fires can quickly escalate into whole houses. The EPA estimates that house fires caused 400 deaths and 1,520 injuries in 2011, as well as billions in damages.
It is important to have an inspection. If it is found that the fire started from a poorly installed wood stove, then you may not be eligible for a payout. This could lead to financial ruin if your house burns down.
Are wood stoves a risk to homeowners’ insurance?
A wood stove can increase homeowners’ insurance premiums in many cases. A wood stove can significantly increase the chance of your home being destroyed by a fire.
Wood stoves are much more dangerous than other heating methods. A gas or electric fireplace, for example, does not have the following:
- Creosote/soot buildup
To start an electric or gas fireplace, you don’t need any matches or fire starters. This makes them safer.
Wood stoves can be activated in a variety of ways. To activate a wood stove you need to first create or allow a draft in the fireplace. This will prevent smoke buildup. After the draft has been started, the kindling can be burned underneath larger stacks of wood while the door is open to the wood stove. Smoke accumulation in the home and embers on the floor are the risks associated with this step.
Apart from the risks associated with starting a wood stove, there is a longer-term risk: creosote in the chimney can cause cancerous growths and make the house highly flammable. If a steel liner has not been properly installed, creosote could catch fire in the chimney and put the entire house at risk.
Wood stoves are more risky than other heating methods.
Wood stoves versus pellet stoves
A pellet stove and a wood stove both burn wood. However, a pellet stove can burn smaller (manmade), portions of wood than a wood stove. Pellet stoves typically require less maintenance than wood stoves. An onboard computer detects when pellets need to be burned and adds them to the fire. A pellet stove is more efficient than wood stoves in that you can control the heat it produces.
A pellet stove and wood burner stove both require the installation of a professional. Both need to be sealed properly and connected to a vent or chimney. A wood stove needs a chimney, while a pellet stove can connect to either a vent or a chimney. A pellet stove allows for more flexibility in placement. It can be placed anywhere as long as there is enough clearance and ventilation. However, your woodstove must be placed wherever your chimney is. Your insurance policy will be affected by a pellet stove. This is why it is important to talk with your agent about the requirements and implications of a homeowners policy.
There are many risks involved in wood stoves and pellet stoves. You should also consider practical considerations.
- Pellets are more expensive than wood
- You don’t need an electric power source
- It lasts for many years
- Low operating costs for wood that is sourced locally
- A pellet stove is less efficient than a stove.
- If it is your primary heating source, it will need to be maintained throughout the year.
- This stove is considered to be more dangerous than a pellet stove.
- A woodpile near your house could attract pests such as termites or rodents. This could lead to damage to your home.
- A pellet stove is more expensive to purchase and install.
- Heat is easier and more efficient to manage.
- It’s cheaper to operate and maintain.
- Installation is quick and inexpensive
- A wood stove is safer to use
- Better for the environment
- Requires an electric source
- It doesn’t last as long as a wood-burning stove.
- Keep your pellets indoors, away from pests
- It can be more difficult to source pellets than traditional firewood.